The Foot Burner

Eureka, Montana Part I

The World’s record in plowing with mould boaer plows was
established at Perdue University, Indiana, in 1911 when 3 Rumely
30-60 oil pulls were hitched abreast, to a 50 bottom 14′ plow.
The plows were put out by the Oliver Plow Co., and set up and
operated by experts of the company. Operating on low grade
kerosene, this gigantic outfit would plow seven acres with every
mile, or 14 acres per hour. There were many different makes and
models of farm tractors put out years back that are no longer on
the market. The Rumely oil pull was put out in greater number than
most, and was a great favorite with farmers of the Prairie States.
They were built sturdy cheap to operate and did not require too
much skill on the part of the operator.

Just recently I ran into an old friend from east of the
mountains, who related an experience he had as an early
homesteader. He purchased a 30-60 Rumely Oil-Pull with plows and a
model T Ford and with a claim shack he was all set for fame and
fortune. He was not quite 21 years of age at the time he took up
the 320 acres of homestead. But he said no one ever challenged his
age because of the work and hours that he was putting in between
sunrise and sunset, he felt a hundred years old by night and often
looked it.

What with operating the tractor, tending his own plows, trips
down for fuel, and to the blacksmith shop for sharp plow leighs, it
was a sweatshop. With all that power, life should have been easy,
but it wasn’t, besides, he wanted to get a new breaking seeded
to flax before the season got too far advanced. Water had to be
hauled from a well about a half mile distant, for the tractor
required some as a fuel mixture with the kerosene, although the
tractor was air cooled, and although he did not use much in the way
of housekeeping duties he did have to haul water about twice a

At last things got so badly out of hand that he hired a young
fellow and his sister who had come from New York State, and each
had filed on a claim. He turned over the shack to the girl to do
the cooking and washing, and he and the girl’s brother slept in
a tent. As he explained it to me, his cooking was not up to
‘Ritz-Charlton specifications’, he said you could just as
well try to fatten a fanning mill by running oats through it as to
try and gain weight on his cooking.

They managed better with two of them ,they could change off work
on the oil pull and keep it going steady nearly every day. Also get
the flax seeded, and have well cooked meals instead of tin-can
meals and warmed over coffee.

One particularly cold morning they could not get the model T
started, said he did not know if it was the weather, or the cussed
thing was just homesick for Detroit, but it would not start. So he
took out the plugs and primed it with ether, as they always kept a
can of it on the tractor to start up with on cold mornings. He kept
four head of horses for use on the grain drill, so they hooked up
one team to the Ford and fastened a chain from the eveners to the
front axle of the Ford. He took the wheel and the hired man started
the team, when that ether exploded the team started to run away,
the hired man stayed with the lines for about as long as he could
keep up, but from then on they were on their own. It was the first
example of free-wheeling, and it would have probably looked funny
to anyone, but at the time he was too busy with the problem of
navigation to see any humor about it. The team finally ran to the
edge of the newly seeded land and were badly winded, pulling the
Ford on the end of that long chain, before they got very far across
the plowed field. They finally got the team, and everything under
control and by that time the Ford had gotten over its cantankerous
spell and started off with the usual amount of hand cranking that
they required.

The old Model T has made some big changes since those days( both
in the face lifting job to its outward appearance, mechanical
improvements, and not to mention the comforts of the operator.

But with the very best efforts of the S.A.E. it is doubtful if
the cussed-ness of internal combustion engines will ever be
entirely eliminated. The cantankerous spells of refusing to start
are often to be found in the new streamlined jobs.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment